Principal Rob House signs the Stigma Free pledge banner at Spectrum Community School on Wednesday. The Spectrum Philanthropy Club has planned a monthly schedule of awareness campaigns to break down different stigmas, such as mental health and religion. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Club wants Spectrum to be first stigma-free school on the Island

Earning the designation as a stigma free zone takes a year, worth it, say students

A group of Spectrum Community School students is seeking to make the high school Vancouver Island’s first “stigma-free zone.”

The newly formed Spectrum Philanthropy Club, a group of mostly Grade 12 students, invited Robyn Thomas from the Stigma Free Society to help kick off the initiative last Wednesday morning.

Thomas addressed some 300 Spectrum students in the drama theatre about her own story of mental health, overcoming PTSD, and what can be done to break down certain stigmas including mental health, along with all negative stereotypes, she said.

“We’ll work with the school for the year to help it work towards being a stigma-free zone,” Thomas said. “It’s a process and at the end we’ll designate the school a stigma-free zone.”

Thomas then joined the club in the school’s front foyer during lunch, while the club invited students and staff to sign their giant stigma-free pledge banner. The movement coincides with Spectrum staff’s own initiative, Spec-Respect.

“We formed this group out of our social justice class that was supposed to happen but didn’t have enough people,” said club member Ethan Badr, in Grade 12. “We’ll hold an event every month, I think it’s really important.”

The school population is already a relatively positive group with low rates of homophobia, racism or judgment regarding mental health, Badr said. But the goal is to make being stigma free a part of the school’s ongoing culture. One way they’ll do that is by holding a presentation for all Grade 9s (Spectrum is Grade 9 to 12) at the beginning of each school year, starting in 2018.

For this year, the club has launched a season-long calendar which will identify different stigmas each month.

For example, in December the group will build awareness around religion as the month holds significant meaning in Christianity, Judaism and other beliefs, said Grade 12 Jalen Smith. January will focus on mental health, which picks up on the momentum from Bell’s Let’s Talk Day.

The banner will come out again and will soon be posted in the school, Badr added.

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Two Oak Bay officers recognized at 10th anniversary of anti-impaired driving program

Alexa’s Team has grown from 26 members in 2008 to the current 2,400

UPDATE: Recycling truck destroyed by fire in Victoria

Emterra truck sitting on McLure Street in residential neighbourhood, driver safe

Victoria Shamrocks acquire NLL and MSL all-star

Rob Hellyer brings offensive power to the Shamrocks

VicPD cuts school liaison program over budget impasse with Esquimalt

Six officers, including three school liaisons, to be reassigned to frontline duties

Vancouver Island is home to some of the ‘rattiest’ cities in B.C.

Three municipalities in Greater Victoria, and three more around the Island have gnawed their way into the top 20

VIDEO: B.C. man recognized for spinning basketball on toothbrush

Abbotsford man holds world record for longest duration of time of 60.5 seconds

Former Social Credit MLA dies at 88

Lyall Hanson was mayor of Vernon in 1981 and moved to provincial politics from 1986-96

Police searching for escaped prisoner in B.C.

Ralph Whitfield Morris, 83, is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder

B.C. set to introduce pot laws, but years of fine tuning likely: minister

Legislation regulating recreational marijuana is expected to be introduced Thursday

Sights of Saanich bring smiles to Japanese delegation

A small leap highlighted the short but potentially historic visit of a… Continue reading

Arrests made after truck crashes into unmarked police cars in Nanaimo

Two men facing numerous charges after allegedly fleeing scene on the mid-island

Canadian driver uses lawn chair as driver’s seat, gets caught

Ontario police detachment caught the male driver during a traffic stop

B.C. moves to restrict pill presses in opioid battle

Minister Mike Farnworth says federal law doesn’t go far enough

Most Read